Three letters. Two words. One holy moment.

If you live in America and/or aren’t living under a rock, you know that last week was rife with tragedy. From the Boston bombing to the West explosion, things were chaotic, and people were heartbroken, fearful and confused. It was encouraging to see our church do what the Church does — we responded with help for West and prayer for Boston.

On Sunday morning this last week, we began our service with a time of prayer. All across the auditorium people were gathered in twos and threes, interceding for all the brokenhearted, fearful and afflicted. 

I sat there and I prayed with my friends, and my heart was heavy with the weight of the pain that was close enough to home to feel deeply. And in that moment, I felt like God said, “Remember that I am who I am.”

I was reminded of Moses’ first encounter with God at the burning bush (Exodus 3). It says that God says he sees the affliction of his people. He has heard their cry and he knows their suffering, and he has come to deliver them out of the hands of their enemies. Moses asks a valid question after God gives him a charge to lead his people — he says, “God, who do I tell these people that you are?” The answer is kind of strange — He says just tell them that I AM. I AM who I AM. 

I AM.

It’s only three letters that make up two words, but somehow it can change everything in just one moment.

Am. It’s the present tense of the verb “to be.” To exist. 

So in this moment, God tells Moses, “I am real. I exist. I am here. Present. Right now.” I AM. Not I was, or I will be, or I might have been.

He is power that’s for now.

Suddenly every present moment becomes holy. And at the thought of this, right there in the fourth row at church, I take off my shoes. I AM is here. This is holy ground.

Cheese coneys and motorcycle helmets: the mark of a princess.

In the mid 90s, my dad drove a yellow motorcycle, and he had a really awesome ponytail to match it. I was in elementary school, and it was the coolest thing ever when dad would take me places on his motorcycle. He used to take me on Saturday dates — we would go eat cheese coneys at James Coney Island. (Did you just throw up in your mouth a little?)

Mark Krimm, everybody. What a stud.

Mark Krimm, everybody. What a stud.

I’ll never forget one time, we both got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of lunch and when we came back they’d bussed our table. Since we weren’t done eating yet, we ended up getting seconds for free. We did a victory dance around the restaurant… I guess there’s been a mark of favor on my life since the beginning. 😉

I have some really sweet memories of the times my dad would take me on motorcycle dates. There was something extra special about the invitation into an adventure with him. There was a message I received in those experiences that never had to be spoken. Dad was just showing me that he wanted to take me out and show me off, spend time with me and do things we loved to do together. He wanted everyone to know who I was, and he proved it when he bought a white helmet for me and my sisters that he wrote on the back with paint pens, in big fancy letters, “Daddy’s Girls.”

It was just like his, but just my size. An identity he placed on me that spoke value and purpose. I belonged to him, and he was taking me on an adventure.

And what my dad was doing in the natural mirrors a much greater fatherly love that we get to experience in the supernatural. So often we think of the throne room as unapproachable, but we’ve been given an invitation — an unlimited, all-access pass. And do you know what that invitation says?

Come and see what I have for you. I want to be with you. I want to show you what it is to live a life of adventure. I want to show you off. I want everyone to know that you’re mine.

Did you know that the only people allowed in the Oval office without permission are the children of the President of the United States? I get the feeling that our founding fathers knew the importance of children having access to their father. I get the feeling that they knew that kind of access to their Father.

And it’s not even so much that we’re allowed to enter the throne room without permission, but that we’ve already been granted unlimited permission.

So when I approach God, and I enter the throne room, I run without thinking about it and without an invitation I just jump right into the lap of Dad, because I know his heart is to be with me, to show me the secret things of an adventurous life with him, and to make it know that I am His. Just like my dad, and his yellow motorcycle, and my cheesy white helmet. And what does God do when I come running? He puts a crown on my head. And inscribed on it, in big fancy letters, “Daddy’s Girl.”

Just like His, but just my size.

When He calls I come, When He doesn’t I play.

In attempt to get creative on date night, Noland and I built a fort in our living room last week. About 9 days later, our living room still looks like a portal to Narnia — I can’t bring myself to take it down! I had no idea God would do such a deep work in me in a fort made of blankets and clothes pins. 

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^^ Behold! Fort Gilmore!

Lately I feel like my child-like imagination is heightened. I’m having so much revelation of what it looks like to become like a child so that I can inherit the kingdom of Heaven. I’m hearing Dad’s voice more clearly because I’m embracing the role of a child more than ever before. It’s sweet, and it’s rich, and the best part is it’s so full of adventure!

I think a lot of my adventurous spirit comes from my years of spending summers at Young Life camp as a kid. I lived adventures that most kids dream of. Riding a horse to a waterfall on a mountain in North Carolina, where a cowboy cooked french toast over a fire. Running through the aspen grove in the mountains of Colorado, playing tag and wading through the creek searching for treasure. Standing at a fence along the river outside of Vancouver, watching black bears fish for their breakfast at what seemed like an arm’s reach away. Swinging and zip lining through the trees, feeling the closest I’ve ever felt to what it must be like to fly. Endless afternoons of silly games and late nights of hoedowns and square dances that always ended in a midnight snack. It really was something magical. When I think about what Heaven must be like, a lot of my experiences at Young Life camp influences how I dream about spending eternity.

But the adventure of my childhood didn’t end there. I remember bike rides with my sisters and parents through the trails in Kingwood, Texas, that somehow felt like we were on a quest in some enchanted forest. My dad would yell from behind us, “Lions, tigers, and bears! Oh my!” and we would all take off on a dead sprint. 

In the years we spent in New Braunfels, we had season passes to Schlitterbahn every summer. Running around the world’s number one water park all summer long was a dream. We’d stay from open to close, pretty much. Mom packed a lunch and we would swim and play until the wrinkles on our fingers threatened to just melt our skin away.

Behind our house along the river in Nashville, I built a tree house one summer with all the neighborhood boys. We had a rope swing that we would swing off the tree house and into the river off of. We were always dreaming about how to build it bigger and better, and by the end of our second summer at the treehouse it seemed like we had created an entire village of our own in the woods. It was like escaping to another world as soon as you broke the tree line. No longer in the suburb of Brentwood, but in a world of our own where bare feet and a Capri Sun were really all you ever needed.

What made all these experiences so great? There was really no point to them. No destination, no expectation of how it would end or where it would take us. But it was a time of discovery. I didn’t care where any of those adventures were taking me — I was on some of the greatest quests of my life, and in every moment I was exactly where I wanted to be.

At what point in our lives do we lose that? Not long ago, I was spending time with God trying to pray and dream into all the hopes Noland and I have for our future. Eager to find all the answers, I felt like God challenged me with this question: What will you do with an answer? Why do you want to know so bad? If I tell you, what will happen next?

I didn’t have an answer. I began to realize that what He was trying to say was that answers really aren’t the point. An answer is like an overnight stay on a road trip. You stop to catch your breath, get some rest and maybe refuel a little bit. And then you’re right back on the road. Because on the road, in the flow of life, in the adventure of our walk with Him is where we experience the most of Him. And every time God gives me an answer for where I’m going or what I’m doing, it never becomes a resting place for long. It only sets me out on another adventure. Another quest.

So what I’m learning to embrace now is that yes, God has a plan and a purpose and He has all the answers to all the questions I’ll ever ask for the rest of my life. I’m not supposed to know them all. I’m supposed to run around in the woods, build tree houses and play with my friends. It’s in the magic of the adventure of my life that I experience the most of Him. Not in the answers He has for my future. 

So the motto I’m living by right now, is this:

When He calls I come, and when He doesn’t I play.

Here’s to embracing your childhood. To experiencing the magic of the adventure of having an open Heaven available to you at all times. To the mystery. To imagination. To the reality that it is the glory of God to conceal a matter, and the glory of kings to search it out. (Proverbs 25:2) May your life be seen as an endless treasure hunt, in which it’s the journey that makes it worth living. May this season be one of discovery, and when you look in the mirror may you not see the adult the world sees, but the childhood version of you that will always be the way Dad looks at us.

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Sara, age 3 or 4, I suppose. My favorite photo of my goofy childhood self.